Anthracosis, also called black lung disease or coal worker’s pneumoconiosis, is caused by the accumulation of carbon deposits in the lungs. Simple anthracosis shows small lung opacities. Complicated anthracosis exhibits massive fibrosis in the lungs.
Anthracosis results from inhaling smoke or coal dust. Workers in the coal mining industry are those most likely to develop the disease. Anthracosis frequently occurs with silicosis. Exposure of 15 years or longer is usually required before symptoms develop.
Signs and Symptoms
Exertional dyspnea, productive cough with inkyblack sputum, and recurrent respiratory infections are common symptoms.
A thorough medical history and physical examination revealing exposure to coal dust are essential and may reveal a barrel chest, rales or crackling sounds in the lungs, a rattling in the throat (rhonchi), and wheezing. Chest x-rays, pulmonary function studies, and arterial blood gas analyses will confirm the diagnosis.
Treatment is strictly symptomatic and typically includes the use of bronchodilators and corticosteroid drugs. Chest physical therapy will help remove secretions, and careful management of respiratory complications, such as TB or silicosis that usually occur in association with anthracosis, is important.
The prognosis varies. Simple anthracosis is selflimiting. The complicated form is chronic, progressive, and worsens the prognosis. Complications can be disabling.
Prevention of anthracosis involves avoidance of coal dust.